For several years, 13- to-15-year-old baseball players have been playing in a league simply known as the Intermediate League inside the JL Hutchinson League in Pittsburg.
Now, JL Hutchinson board members voted to change the name to the Don Gutteridge League beginning for the 2009 season.“Todd Biggs and I were talking and he thought that it would be a good way to honor him in the closing years of his life,” said JL Hutchinson League president Jack Bache.
Biggs, who co-authored a book with Gutteridge called “Getting To Know Baseball” that was published in the spring and handed out to each player in the JL Hutchinson League, said that he got the idea while he and Gutteridge were working on the book.
“Don and I worked a great deal together on the book and through the process it just donned on me about how appropriate it would be to do that,” Biggs said. “Originally, my thought would be that we would rename the Machine Pitch league.
“Just sitting there with Don when we were handing out books, it seemed like a perfect idea,” Biggs said. “I think that he will be tickled to hear about it.”
The board elected to rename the older league after Gutteridge.
“We thought that, since we have four leagues, and some of the board thought that the older league would be a better fit for him,” Bache said. “Mainly because of his Major League Baseball experience.”
Gutteridge, who turned 96 in June, played for the St. Louis Cardinals, St. Louis Browns, Boston Red Sox and Pittsburgh Pirates from 1936 to 1948.
After retiring as a player, Gutteridge was a coach for the Chicago White Sox from 1951-66 then again from 1968-69.“It was really easy (to change the name of the league),” Bache said. “It was unanimous and I think we may have wondered just why we did not do this earlier.”
Both Biggs and Bache said that players in the new Don Gutteridge League should benefit on the name change alone.
“I firmly believe that the ball players in Pittsburg will benefit from this simple name change,” Biggs said. “It gives them a success story to identify with and they will learn more about him when they play in the Don Gutteridge League.”
It can even be something that players can remember after their time playing.
“I think that it gives them something to hang their hat on,” Bache said. “Years from now, people can say that they played in the Don Gutteridge League and I think that will have a big impact on them.
Bache said that the board had discussed the name change earlier in the year but nothing materialized.
“I think we just don’t think about those things and we get busy with our day-to-day operations and it was something that we just did not think about,” Bache said. “We had talked about it earlier but we had never really gotten around to it.”
Bache and Biggs said that, if nothing else, the name change is a tribute to Gutteridge and what he has done for Pittsburg.